In 1992, the British Parliament passed the Indian Councils Act 1892 that introduced several amendments to the composition and functions of Legislative Councils in British India. The Act most notably expanded the number of members in the Central and provincial councils. The 1892 Act also marked the beginning of a representative form of government in India.
Provisions of the Indian Councils Act 1892
Expansion of the Legislative Councils
- The Indian Councils Act of 1892 increased the number of additional members (non-official members) in the Central and provincial legislative councils. But, it maintained the official majority in these councils.
- By the 1892 Act, the number of the additional members elected to the Legislative Council of the Governor-General, also called the Central Legislative Council, was increased from 12 to 16 members. The Act expanded the Central Legislative Council to include between 10 and 16 additional members.
- In the provincial legislature council, the Act expanded the number of additional members as follow:
- Bombay: came to have 8 additional members,
- Madras: 20 members,
- Bengal: 20 members,
- Northwestern Province: 15 members,
- Oudh: 15 members.
Increased the functions of the Legislative Councils
- The 1892 Indian Councils Act increased the functions of the legislative councils.
- The Act gave these legislative councils the power of discussing the Budget, and the members were given the right to ask questions on the Budget to the executive (which was barred in the Indian Councils Act 1861).
- The members could now discuss the Budget without the right to vote on it.
- The members of the legislative councils could also put questions on the matters of public interest within certain limits to the government but after giving six days’ notice.
- However, they could not have the right to ask supplementary questions.
Nominations of non-official members of the Legislative Councils
- The Indian Councils Act 1892 provided for the nomination of some non-official members of the legislative councils:
- The non-official members of the Central Legislative Councils were to be nominated by the Viceroy of India on the recommendation of the provincial legislative councils and the Bengal Chamber of Commerce.
- The non-official members of the Provincial Legislative Councils were to be nominated by the Governors on the recommendation of the district boards, municipalities, universities, trade associations, zamindars, and chambers.